Pig production | BRÖRING and Big Dutchman invest into the future
With an opening ceremony, the Havito research barn in Dinklage, Germany, has been officially presented. In the welfare barn with solid flooring, Big Dutchman and Bröring want to collaborate with research scientists to test future-proof concepts for pig production. The two companies have already invested a total of five million euros into the research project.
Bernd Meerpohl, future chairman of Big Dutchman’s supervisory board, welcomed politicians, official consultants and researchers on behalf of the pig equipment supplier. He thanked everyone involved in the project for their support, which had been essential for making the undertaking possible in the first place due to the coronavirus pandemic and the difficult situation of the building industry. And he invited agricultural scientists to explore questions regarding tomorrow’s pig production by using the perfect conditions on the new farm.
Subsequently, Dr. Karl-Heinz Tölle from the interest group of pig producers in Germany (Interessengemeinschaft der Schweinehalter Deutschlands e.V. – ISN) explained the need for research from a practical point of view. All visitors were able to join a tour guided by experts to take a look at the impressive project.
Bernd Meerpohl used the opportunity to call on politicians and conveyed an important message: “Sustainable pig production that is also profitable will only be possible in Germany if family-owned agricultural companies continue to exist. German politicians finally need to create reliable conditions and stop refusing to take decisions.”
Bernd Bröring, managing director of the Bröring group, emphasised the chances offered by the research barn: “We are investing a large sum of money to develop sound solutions for pig production that encompass both animal and common welfare. In addition to the equipment, we will also be able to test our feed concepts extensively in the Havito research barn – for sows, piglets and finishing pigs.”
The manager of the future research barn, Stefan Harpenau, was happy that the barn will now start operating. “In June, 86 gilts will move into the new house. We expect the first piglets to be born at the beginning of 2024. Around 1,000 pigs will be kept in the research barn in total.” After the first batches, i.e. probably in the second half of 2024, the visitor centre will open. “We are looking forward to a productive exchange with anyone interested in sustainable, secure and animal-friendly pork production in Germany.”
The barn will start out with two housing concepts. With the Havito birth-to-finish system, which was named one of the DLG Agrifuture Concept Winners at EuroTier 2022, the piglets spend their whole life in the house, together with their siblings, until they are ready for slaughter. In the Havito birth-to-rear system, the piglets remain in their group of siblings until the end of the rearing phase, when each piglet weighs approx. 30 kg. Both systems have tangible advantages regarding hygiene and reduce stress, with positive effects on animal health and biological performance.
The Havito housing concept’s starting point is the PigT pig toilet, which was introduced in 2018 for rearing and finishing and which has now been extended to include sow management. Less ammonia is formed, improving the air quality in the barn and reducing ammonia emissions in the exhaust air. Since the entire surface of the pen is closed and urine and faeces are separated continuously, the whole pen can be covered with organic bedding material. The pigs structure the pen themselves, creating a lying area, an activity area and an area for defecating.
The triple use of the pen provides not only the sow with sufficient room for movement, but also the piglets and finishing pigs: the animals have up to 40 percent more space to move around. The barn is designed to have bright rooms that are evenly lit by natural light. An innovative flooring system allows the pigs to carry out their natural rooting behaviour in special littered areas. Very clearly, this management method focuses on the pigs’ well-being.